News President says country needs strong national supermarket chain
President Miloš Zeman has come out in support of a strong national supermarket chain which would favour Czech-made products and help local producers. Speaking at the opening of the annual agricultural food fair Země Živitelka on Thursday, criticized to sales policy of supra-national chains and their growing profit margins. He noted that while 15 years ago the profit margin on a bread roll was around 15 percent, now it is 63 percent and pretty much the same goes for other commodities. At present the only national chain is Coop which is too small to stand up to the supranational giants on the market.
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Doctors in Czech hospitals put in twice as many overtime hours as norms allow, Czech television reported citing information released by hospitals in different parts of the country within a campaign aimed at attracting attention to the problem. According to existing regulations doctors may serve up to 416 hours overtime in the course of a year. In actual fact they served on average 700 to 900 overtime hours in the first eight months of this year alone, including in surgery. Hospitals say that if this were not the case health care in most of these institutions would collapse.
The Czech and Slovak governments on Monday held a joint working session in Bratislava with security issues, cooperation in defence and transport high on the agenda. The neighbour states are working to improve road and rail links and plan to sign an agreement on cooperation in defending their airspace. Ministers also debated plans for a joint celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. The two nations spent 73 years in a common state, parting ways in 1993, but have maintained exceptionally close ties.
The Prague association of environmentalists Vlasta is suing the Ministry of the Environment for allegedly failing to address the problem of air-pollution. The ministry already faces a number of similar lawsuits from associations in Ostrava and Brno, cities in the eastern part of the country where air pollution is a chronic problem in the winter months. The Prague association Vlasta points out that dust particles in the air frequently exceed permitted levels and argues that the ministry’s policy in combatting air pollution is woefully ineffective. The court has 90 days in which to address the complaint.
SkyToll has filed a complaint with the the Czech competition watchdog, the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition, over the Transport Ministry’s decision to prolong the motorway toll collection contract with the Austrian company Kapsch without holding a competitive tender. Although the contract with Kapsch was deemed disadvantageous, the ministry failed to prepare the ground to end the country’s dependency on the firm and, earlier this year, extended the contract for fear that a fall-out in the tolling system would mean the country would be overrun by trucks. The decision came under fire both from coalition and opposition deputies who warned that the government was laying itself open to arbitration procedures from rival companies.
Václav Klaus Jr., the elder son of the former president, has announced his intention to run for office in the 2017 parliamentary elections. Mr. Klaus, formerly director of an elite secondary school in Prague, said it was premature to speak about ambitions within the centre-right Civic Democratic Party established by his father, who parted ways with the party and is no longer a member. We shall see after the elections, Klaus Jr. told the news site idnes.cz. Like his father, Klaus junior is a fierce critic of the EU, saying o Facebook recently that the Czech Republic should leave the alliance. The leader of the Civic Democratic Party Petr Fiala distanced himself from the statement.
The production of L-410 airplanes manufactured by the Russian-owned company Aircraft Industries will remain in Kunovice, South Moravia, representatives of the Russian company confirmed in talks with Czech Trade and Industry Minister Jan Mladek on Monday. The company’s employees had been holding a strike alert over fears that production would be reduced or moved to Russia. The situation in the company had been deteriorating, with sales of the LET aircraft in one of the main markets, Russia, dropping sharply. Many of the company's 900 employees have been forced to take leave with reduced wages. According to the company’s management the firm has acquired new orders from China and full operation should be renewed by November.
A public fund has been set up to raise money for a memorial to the parents of the so-called Winton children, whose lives were saved when they were sent abroad from Czechoslovakia to escape almost certain death under the Nazis. The charity fund has been set up by a group of “Winton children” who are hoping to reach a target amount of 2.3 million crowns. The memorial, a bronze copy of a train door with glass casts of parents’ hands on one side and children’s hands on the other, is to be erected at Prague’s main railway station. A statue to Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the transports of 669, mostly Jewish children, ahead of WWII, already stands at the station.
Detectives investigating the murder of a Czech businessman, which happened in east London last Friday, have charged a 29-year-old man. Raymond Sculley will appear in court on Monday. Two others arrested on Friday, a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, have been released on bail pending further inquiries. The 31-year old Zdeněk Makar was attacked on Friday following a row inside a fast food outlet. The gang chased and beat him to death with a metal chain, leaving him in a pool of blood. Friends of Mr Makar have raised money via the internet to help finance the repatriation of his body to the Czech Republic.
In football, Slavia Prague defeated their traditional rivals Sparta 2:0 in a Czech league game at the Letná stadium on Sunday. Maris Mešanovic opened the scoring in the 62nd minute, and Jaromír Zmrhal added another goal in 79th. The victory in the 286th Prague derby moves Slavia to the fifth place in the table.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Sunday advocated keeping production of the L-410 airplanes manufactured by the Russian-owned company Aircraft Industries in Kunovice, South Moravia. The employees went on strike alert on Wednesday over fears that production will be reduced or shifted to Russia. The future of the company is scheduled to be discussed by all parties concerned in Prague on Monday. The situation in the company has been deteriorating, with sales of the LET aircraft in one of the main markets, Russia, dropping sharply. Many of the 900-strong workforce have been forced to take leave with reduced wages.